In 1996, the conflict in Kashmir entered it seventh year, with little indication that parliamentary elections in May would either lead to peace or end the widespread human rights abuses that characterized the war. In the months preceding the elections, Indian security forces intensified their efforts against militant groups, stepping up cordon-and-search operations and summarily executing captured militant leaders. Alongside them, operating as a secret, illegal army, were state-sponsored paramilitary groups, composed of captured or surrendered former militants described as "renegades" by the Indian government. Many of these groups were responsible for grave human rights abuses, including summary executions, torture, and illegal detention as well as election-related intimidation of voters.
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